Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth

Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth
Showing posts with label Fly Fishing Report. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fly Fishing Report. Show all posts

Friday, May 23, 2008

Last Time and New Job


Today I made one last (most likely anyway) trip to my home river before heading east for the summer. If all goes as planned, I'll be living in Townsend by this time next week. I was hoping for a cloudy day on the river to get the fish going but it was not meant to be. The clouds gave out on the drive down only about 5 miles from the river and it stayed bright and sunny the whole time I was there. Despite the less than ideal conditions, I still managed to catch a good number of fish. Most of the fish where caught on various midge patterns and would only eat if I got my flies right on the bottom.


I probably won't make it to the Caney for awhile now but that will be fine because I'll be on the wild trout streams of the Smokies as often as I want to (when I'm not working). You can rest assured that I'll be hitting the evening hatch often and hopefully will still have time to post reports. Additionally, I'll probably experiment a little with smallies and make a trip or two to the South Holston, Watauga, Clinch, and/or Holston rivers.

Best of all, I'm getting the opportunity to work for a fly shop which I've always thought would be a great experience. I'll be working for Little River Outfitters for a couple of months this summer until school starts again. I'll be working in the shop and taking care of the fly tying materials section. It doesn't get much better than helping folks out with fishing so I should have an awesome summer! Ya'll stop by and see me if you get the chance...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Recent Fishing


Finally, a fishing report! Yesterday I decided I couldn't wait any longer and headed down to the Caney Fork River. With gas prices approaching $4/gallon, it is hard to go fishing too often. Thankfully I'll be in the Smokies for the summer and can pretty much fish whenever I want, but more on that later...for now back to the fishing...

Summer is a lazy time for me immediately after school gets out and before I start at a summer job. I generally don't get up early even if it is to go fishing (tomorrow I might make an exception). Yesterday was no different and I planned to start fishing when they shut off the generators at 11:00 a.m. On the way down, I noticed a few members of the Buffalo Valley deer herd.


The river was becoming crowded when I arrived since wadeable water was hard to come by. I found my own bit of river and started fishing and was soon becoming disgusted with all the little guys that couldn't stay off my flies. Apparently the spring stocking of small browns happened recently and they were all ravenously hungry.

After messing with the small fish for awhile, I finally started moving around and found a few better rainbows.
The section I was fishing was becoming pretty boring though and I soon decided to try something else and headed downriver to catch up with the falling water. The new location proved to be much better and I finally got to try a setup I've been wanting to use for awhile. The main difference with other deep nymph rigs I've used in the past was the strike indicator. I finally found the conditions perfect for use with a Thingamabobber, and I made the most of it. The indicator worked great and was extremely sensitive showing every little tick on the bottom not to mention the fish that seemed to be flocking to my flies. The fly combination that seemed to work best was a Copper John for weight with a small midge dropped behind. Plenty of fish liked the Copper John as well as the midge. I think this setup will become one of my favorites for the Caney Fork.


I hooked several nice fish landing a several chunky rainbows, a nice little brown, and my first Caney Fork brookie! What a day...


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Caney Fork

Today I finally made the trek down to the Caney Fork for a few hours of fishing in the rain. The river is in great shape, and as long as we don't get too much rain the generation schedule should only get better. Best of all, there are plenty of quality fish in the river now after several months of higher flows. The fish are strong and healthy and hopefully a little dumb although today didn't prove that latter point at all. Unfortunately no big fish were landed, but the 10-14 inch rainbows were still a blast regardless. The fish I didn't land were the ones I will be going back for. I had strikes or briefly fought 3 fish in the 16-18 inch range and saw several that were much larger. Next time the outcome will be different...

Tomorrow I'm making the drive over to the Smokies for the day. It should be fun and I'll try and have a report up as soon as possible if anything exciting happens and probably even if it doesn't...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Twice the Fun


What's better than catching a fish? That would be catching two fish, at the same time that is... The white bass and hybrids were slamming baitfish in the shallows last evening. The fishing was just plain silly. Basically, it was as easy as waiting for a school of fish to come by busting bait, toss my flies in, twitch them a couple of times, and hold on. I had multiple fish on more than once but only actually landed one double.


Late in the evening, some slightly larger fish started coming up. I stuck one really good one but couldn't get a solid hookup. Finally I got a good one on and after a solid fight I landed a good fish. The rain was starting to pick back up about this time so I called it a day...one of my better ones lately...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Trout!!!


Spring break was the last time I fished for trout and that was almost a month ago now. This was a problem that needed to be corrected so I finally made it up to the Hiwassee. The river should be turning on really well with big hatches of Hendricksons and a few BWOs along with the usual caddis and I wanted to see how things were coming. The desire to fish dry flies was strong, so strong in fact that when I arrived and only saw a few stray bugs, I tied on a Neversink Caddis in dark brown with a caddis-olive softhackle as a dropper.

The first few casts gave me a rise to the softhackle, but after several more I knew that the fish wouldn't be tearing up the dry. Accordingly, I tied on my early season go-to fly on the Hiwassee, a #16 beadhead black simi seal leech pattern which apparently does a good job imitating all the small dark stonefly nymphs that are active this time of year. This proved to be the ticket and I started hooking fish. Not tearing them up mind you but catching one here and one there at a decent pace.


As the day progressed, I saw a few stray mayflies that looked like they might have been Hendricksons but no large hatch yet. The highlight of the day was catching a fish on the dry. A good hatch of tiny (think #34-#40) yellowish midges was in progress and the fish were taking pupa just under the surface. A small midge dropped under a dry seemed like a good option so I tied on the caddis again for the dry. After completing the new rig, I started working the current tongues just above a hole that usually produces a few rainbows. Suddenly, a shadow floated up off the bottom. I fully expected it to reject my fly but it just kept coming. Suddenly it broke the surface as it inhaled the dry fly. A nice smooth hookset later I had a fish on. It wasn't a monster but it sure was fun...


The river is fishing okay right now but that's it. I caught 14 or 15 fish over the course of the day but it could have been much better if the bugs were hatching. One big guy bumped my fly but couldn't find the hook apparently. The fly of the day was the black simi seal pattern and the water was right around 50 degrees. I'm willing to bet that in another 1-2 weeks, the river will be on fire as far as the hatches are concerned. Rainy or at least cloudy days will be best... Be there...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Better Than Nothing



Everyone has those days when you're catching fish but they just can't compare with the fish in another location. After being spoiled on my home waters over Thanksgiving break, the rubber trout of the Hiwassee didn't give the same thrill that they sometimes do. For example, if I haven't fished in a few weeks, the Hiwassee is great, and usually I'll catch a few colorful fish that make up for the rest of the dumb stockers. This last weekend wasn't one of those days. All the fish were cookie cutter stockers that looked like this:


When you compare this guy to the fish I regularly catch on my home waters, there's just no comparison.


The day wasn't completely useless as I discovered some very nice browns that should give me a great challenge this winter. If I'm lucky, perhaps I'll eventually catch one of the big boys. Thankfully, Christmas break will be here soon and I'll be back on the Caney and will probably even get some time in on the South Holston. Not a bad way to spend the holidays... Until then, you'll find me at the vise preparing for the festivities.

December 2006, SoHo

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Rainy Day


Today was the first day of Thanksgiving break. First on the agenda was a trip to the Dentist to check on my tooth I broke on the Hiwassee. As soon as that was done, I decided that I probably should go fishing. Accordingly I headed to the Caney Fork, well aware that it was supposed to rain. The fishing was decent. Not great but not bad either. I wonder how much the weather affected the fishing because it rained for several hours while I was on the water. Thankfully I remembered to bring a rain jacket so I stayed relatively dry.

The fish were a bit funny. I would tie on a new fly and quickly catch a fish but then I wouldn't catch one for awhile. The fish were actively feeding and my suspicion is that each fish in the river was keyed on something completely different.


The browns appear to be spawning (or at least trying to) now which makes for some interesting viewing opportunities. It isn't everyday you can watch big browns role around in skinny water. The rainbows were all healthy and had a lot of fight. More than once I thought I had finally hooked a good 18+ inch fish but it always turned out to be just the usual 12-15 inch fish. For their size, Caney Fork fish are some of the strongest fighting fish I've ever hooked.

Of special interest is that I caught another rainbow with a vivid red stripe. These look much different from the usual rainbows I catch and its always nice to catch something a little unusual. The picture quality is not good as the lens was fogging up but you can get the idea....


I have plans to be on the river again Friday despite the forecast cold temperatures so check back for more in a couple of days...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Hiwassee Recently


School has finally started to slow down a bit. The bulk of my semester projects and papers have already been finished and turned in. This has freed up a little time for more important things like fishing and catching up on some fly tying. This weekend I tied several dozen flies and today I got in a few hours today on the Hiwassee. The fishing is decent, but not great. The fish are transitioning into cool weather mode where midges become one of the more important bugs to match.

Dry flies are still working fairly well though. Fish were rising well when I arrived on the river in the early afternoon. I tied on a Neversink Caddis for an indicator and the trusty Zebra midge underneath. My first fish soon came to hand thanks to the midge but then I proceeded to nail several on the dry. I also spotted some larger fish so at least a few made it through the summer (and I'd be willing to bet there are quite a few). Until we get a bunch of rain the river should be wadeable most of the time and will continue to provide consistent action. The midge fishing will only get better as we move into winter. Some of my favorite memories on the HI are of cool January or February afternoons where I'm the only one on a river full of fish gorging themselves on the massive hatches of tiny bugs.


I should be able to fish some this upcoming week and will hopefully get in a float on the Caney. Stay tuned for more on that...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Danger of Fishing Nymphs


This weekend on the Hiwassee, I had a profound and potentially life-changing experience while fishing. First, I discovered firsthand the danger of fishing subsurface. Then, as if to reinforce the lesson learned, I stumbled across some risers that were delicately sipping something microscopic on the surface. Of course, that in itself is not unusual but the fact that I decided to tie on a small dry and then had success with it was very unusual.

I'm sure you're wondering at this point what in the world I'm talking about. Understanding that I love fishing subsurface flies, you are probably doubting my sanity. It would all make sense though if you were able to see my tooth. That's right, I chipped off the entire top of my tooth.

For as long as I've been fishing nymphs, I pinch on my weight by using the good old set of chompers in my mouth. There was always the vague unease created by knowing that something bad could result, but I always shrugged it off and gnawed on yet another split shot. Yesterday, the routine was rudely interrupted (and just after I had caught a nice 13 inch brown no less) by a frightening crunching noise coming from somewhere under my nose and above my chin. I didn't feel any pain though and began to think that my teeth were so powerful that they had shredded the small split shot. When I examined the weight and saw that it was in perfect condition, the light came on and I was horrified to feel rough edges on a formerly perfect tooth. Subdued, I managed to pinch on the weight with my pliers and continued fishing. I finally moved upriver above the powerhouse to look for the risers that I was sure would be there.

Sure enough, there were several fish working the pools immediately above the powerhouse and I soon had a rainbow and a smallmouth to hand, still using subsurface flies. Knowing things could be much better, I decided to try a small zelon midge that I had tied several weeks ago. I diligently took out the 6x and tied on a generous piece and finally attached the small midge. Moving upstream in stealth mode, I spotted a rise on the other side of the stream just behind a rock. Two casts later, I dropped the small dry just upstream of the fish and had the satisfaction of watching the fish inhale the fly. Suddenly, everything seemed right. This was how fly fishing was meant to be. Nervously I pondered how this might affect my future fishing as I envisioned myself fishing dries upstream and to rising fish only. Then I realized, it wasn't the time for that kind of thought, I needed to just savor the moment. There would be plenty of time later for constructing my own philosophy as it pertained to fly fishing and its methods.

Now, as I look back on that short time fishing, I am forced to wonder if perhaps I'm on the brink of a new phase in my fly fishing. I know deep down that I'll never completely give up on fishing subsurface. If it brings more enjoyment, I might focus on fishing dries more for awhile. One thing is certain and that is that I will not be chewing on any split shot for a long time to come. I'll probably be visiting the dentist to remedy the problems that have already occurred...


Sunday, October 28, 2007

More Fishin'


That's right! I went fishing twice this weekend...I guess it was just making up for lost time. Regardless, the second fishing trip was better than the first. Since I was home for the weekend, I just went down to the Caney Fork which I've been wanting to fish for awhile now. The fishing was great and the catching was phenomenal. I completely lost track of how many times I caught fish on consecutive casts and some of them were even eating the dry I had on as an indicator for my midge.

This river will continue fishing well and I hope to make another trip there again as soon as possible. There are a lot of nice fish in the river and they are very willing to eat right now as winter is just around the corner. My best fish of the day was a hard fighting 16" rainbow but that was just because I missed the much larger brown that ate the zebra midge and then spat it out before I reacted... I'll just say I'm rusty since I haven't been fishing enough lately...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Yellowstone Days 4 and 5


I finally found a little time to add another short post about Yellowstone. The first of these two days was spent on the Lamar and upper Soda Butte. The next day was for fishing the Yellowstone River and it was quite memorable.

When I woke up and looked out of my tent on day 4, I saw two fawns and two does grazing quietly through our campsite. It was a treat to have these animals coming so close and I snapped a few quick pictures. One of the fawns gave me the opportunity for this shot as he peered at my with curiosity.


We decided to give the canyon section of the Lamar a shot and accordingly scrambled down to the river from the road above. When we got there, we started out using big dries which seemed like a solid bet. Strangely, the fish just weren't looking up at all. I soon switched over to some nymphs and started catching a few fish but nothing particularly noteworthy. I had on one decent fish that would have been nice to land but it through my flies. Here in the canyon section we were catching mainly cuttbows along with a few cutts.


The afternoon provided another opportunity to check out upper Soda Butte during the afternoon closures on lower elevation streams. Once again, it provided us with some great moments and nice fish.


The next day would prove to be much more memorable. We had decided to hike in at Tower Falls and fish upriver from there on the advice of a couple guys from Bud Lilly's Trout Shop that camped next to us. This turned out to be an excellent bit of advice but things developed slowly. Once again, upon arriving streamside, we started out throwing large dries such as chernobyl style flies and big stimulators. We were rising a few fish but felt that things could be much better. Finally, even though I really wanted to fish dries, I put on a double nymph rig and a couple of indicators about 4-5 feet above. This proved to be the ticket with a beadhead PT and a small black simi seal leech both doing well. Now, hardly a drift went by without getting a strike. All the fish were solid cutthroat in the 10-16 inch range that fought well in the powerful current of the mighty Yellowstone. Finally, we had to quit fishing as the afternoon closure approached but I'll be back to fish this section, hopefully during the salmonfly hatch next time.



On the hike out, we saw many bones, at least some were probably from kills made by the park's large predators. This large elk skull and antlers would have made a great souvenir if it was legal to keep such things...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Went Fishing....Finally!!!


First of all, I want to apologize for the lack of recent posts. I still have several stories to share about West Trip 2007 and those will come, hopefully soon. School is a terrible thing, keeping the diligent tied down with never ending homework. Fortunately, this past weekend I had a respite. With virtually no homework due on Monday, I was able to take a last minute trip to the Smokies. I haven't done a solo trip to the park in far too long so it was great to be back out camping and doing some intense day trips to sample remote fishing opportunities.

I headed out of Chattanooga around 2:00 on Friday afternoon and made it to Little River Outfitters in Townsend by around 4:00. After finding a few fly tying items I needed, I talked to Daniel about a stream he had fished that I've been eying for awhile. Then he asked me if I had fished one of the Superfine Trout Bum rods yet. "Not yet," was my reply to which he asked if I would like to for the weekend. Opportunity doesn't come knocking like that every day and I saw a great chance to do a product review. After he got the rod and I purchased my items, I headed towards Elkmont to set up camp.



I just had to go fishing so as soon as my tent was up, I quickly put the Trout Bum rod (8' 4wt, 4-piece) together and started fishing up through the campground. The water was terribly low but the fish were still cooperative. A couple nice browns and one small rainbow later, I headed back to camp to get something to eat. After that I hit the sack since I was thinking about a big trip the next day.


The next day, after a huge breakfast, I headed over the hill to the North Carolina side to hike into a stream that I've been wanting to hit for awhile. The hike was fairly intense, made especially so by the fact that I'm not in quite the shape I should be (that will be remedied by the time my October trip rolls around). In hand I carried the Trout Bum rod to continue testing it out. After my first evening of fishing with it, I was already trying to dream up a plausible story that I could tell Daniel as to why I couldn't return the rod.


When I reached the stream, I was dismayed to find two fisherman coming downstream from where I intended to fish. After asking them how far they had fished, I decided to just start there and see what would happen. Despite the recent pressure, I was still able to fool plenty of fish. All the fish caught were brookies except for one lonely rainbow, a good sign I thought. The stream was very good-sized, especially for its elevation and was full of eager fish. Dry flies were the best option with an orange Neversink caddis accounting for most of my fish.




I had forgot to bring my headlamp this weekend so after fishing a couple of hours, I headed back down the stream to make the jaunt up and over the mountain. Getting stuck in the backcountry all night is not my idea of fun. After getting back to camp, I went down to a large pool on Little River to further test the rod. I had already used it to effectively fish dries and also heavily weighted nymphs so I decided to toss some streamers for awhile. I never threw them more than 30-40 feet for lack of casting room but the Trout Bum rod easily handled a weighted #4 Simi Seal Streamer.

After pounding the water awhile, I headed back to camp and got to bed early again. Sunday morning I wanted to fish the Little River above Elkmont. Accordingly, I got up, ate a quick breakfast and after taking down camp, I started up the trail. I decided to just start fishing without hiking very far but soon saw the telltale wet bootprints. I still managed a few fish before getting out to hike a bit farther. This time I thought I was fishing fresh water but after fishing for probably an hour or more, I saw to guys fishing above me. I had still been catching some fish but realized it probably should have been much better if I hadn't of been behind other fisherman all day. Still, despite fishing behind somebody I managed probably 10-15 fish over 2-3 hours so it wasn't a horrible day.


Finally I decided that it would be wise to head back to school and so I headed back to civilization, fully refreshed and ready to hit the books again! Oh yeah, I never came up with a good excuse so I stopped by LRO to give the rod back to Daniel. More on the rod later...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Crazy Timing: YNP Day 3


Crazy timing, a developing hatred of whitefish, and unreal brookie fishing all made up day three of our Yellowstone adventure. The previous day we decided that a trip over to West Yellowstone and Blue Ribbon Flies was in order. In the process, we hoped to check out the Gallatin River.

We got a reasonably early start and headed west without too many delays. Anyone that has been to Yellowstone knows that what looks to be an hour or two long drive can easily be twice that with all the traffic jams where the tourists gawk at a buffalo that decided to park on a nice piece of pasture immediately adjacent to the highway.

Thankfully, we didn't run into that situation much on our way and were soon in West Yellowstone at Blue Ribbon Flies. We went into the shop and were immediately in heaven. This shop has the best large selection of traditional tying materials I've probably ever seen. The selection of hair and feathers was astounding not to mention their patented Zelon. After browsing for altogether too long, I finally decided it was time to get out before I saw all my money depart my wallet. I made my way up to the counter to pay where a gentleman with a slight southern accent was conversing with the guy at the register.

Standing there listening and waiting my turn, I started to realize that this guy looked familiar and then he mentioned something about "back home in Tennessee." In amazement I asked, "Are you Hugh Hartsell?" We had known that Mr. Hartsell would be out there but hadn't expected to see this excellent guide from Tennessee. After all, it is a huge area out there and the chances of running into him were extremely small. Incredibly, he answered in the affirmative so we had the pleasure of spending several minutes chatting with him about the fishing he had been doing in the area. He informed us that the Gallatin was off color which was a bummer since we were planning on fishing there. He also mentioned that he thought the Gallatin was the best option for good fishing in the area based on his experience so far. Still in shock over the unbelievable timing it took for us both to be at BRF at the same time, we eventually said goodbye as his wife was waiting on him.



After finishing up at Blue Ribbon Flies, we decided to head up to the Gallatin anyway. It turned out to be a good decision. We got there and while the water was cloudy, it was still fishable as long as you could cast in the increasingly gusty wind. I started out fishing hoppers figuring that surely the strong wind would be blowing them into the water but I couldn't rise a single fish. Soon after, I switched to a Tellico nymph and things improved drastically.



The first few fish were chunky hard fighting rainbows that put on a great aerial display. Then it happened. My nymphs were drifting through a nice hole when my line suddenly stopped and then shot upstream a couple of feet as I set the hook. A nice fish had taken the Tellico and started bulldogging persistently. Flashes of what looked like gold were soon reaching the surface and I thought it was a good brown. Soon however, I brought a whitefish to hand (my first I might add). I'm beginning to understand why people dislike these fish. More on that another time...



After landing that beast, I soon caught several more rainbows and cutthroat before finally landing one brown. Four species in a couple of hours from one stream was pretty amazing but it was time to move on. The wind had got even worse and we had other streams we wanted to look at.





After stopping to check a few spots, we finally settled on the upper Gibbon where I had fond memories of casting to brook trout in a beautiful meadow setting. It was just as I remembered and we were soon catching brookies and the odd rainbow on small ant patterns. They came in two sizes mainly, small and smaller. However they were very willing to eat and provided nonstop fun on dries which is a good time any day in my book. I even caught one guy that had some serious "teeth."



It turned out to be an excellent day exploring a couple of nice streams. We still had other adventures ahead though including the Lamar and Slough Creek not to mention the Yellowstone...